As usual, there has been much going on in football within the last seven days. What with the Ballon d`Or, more and more bizarre transfer speculation, the Millwall chairman offering his supporters a refund after their defeat at Valley Parade and the passion shown by Nottingham Forest manager Stuart Pearce in their derby day win over Derby, it has been a typically mad week in the world of football.
This week saw Cristiano Ronaldo crowned yet again the best player in the world by winning the Ballon D`or award. He beat Lionel Messi (again) and in my mind, it is thoroughly deserved. There has been a lot of debate this week, mainly on talkSPORT, about who will be seen, in time, the best player ever, Pele, Maradona, Ronaldo or Messi. I am not sure you can ever compare these players as they played in different era`s and for example, there is little television footage of Pele in his Santos days.
Also, what about George Best who played on pitches that resembled a farmer’s field? Having watched Ronaldo at Manchester United, from a raw youngster who frustrated players and fans alike with his erratic crossing and decision making to developing without a doubt into a complete footballer, I am thankful to say, I saw him play. The sight of him running down the wing in a red shirt, mesmerising defenders, climbing the highest to score a headed goal to see his wonderful and frankly audacious free kicks was a blessing and for me he is the complete footballer.
There appears no weakness to his game. Whilst Messi is a tremendous footballer and an unbelievable dribbler and has a phenomenal scoring record, my vote would have been Ronaldo. How funny those chants from opposing fans at Old Trafford when they used to chant "you bought the wrong Ronaldo" seem now eh? Well done Ronnie.
The Puskas award for the best goal went to James Rodriguez and whilst his goal for Columbia against Uruguay in the World Cup was spectacular, I have to ask, why didn't Stephanie Roche win with her effort? Top class indeed.
I wrote a few weeks ago about the impending January transfer window and all the hype that comes with it. Well Sky Sports seem to take this hype to another level all together. What with a countdown ticker on the screen of Sky Sports News, to presenters tapping away at big touch screen televisions yacking about some speculation that only they have come up with is cringe-worthy. We all know that the January window is about as exciting as a dose of the clap. Nothing really happens apart from Harry Redknapp doing some deadline day deal that Sky drool over.
There is always one "big" deal and this time it looks like the Bony deal from Swansea to Man City, but the rest are mainly loans with teams at the lower end of the table desperately trying to bring in forwards to help them avoid the drop. All this speculation whether in the paper or on TV, is purely driven to fill the newspaper columns or fill the demand for 24 hour sports news. So if you believe this month’s speculation, Manchester United will be signing Strootman, Hummels, Bale (swapped for De Gea), Ronaldo and Messi, unbelievable. As usual, Sky will build up the last few hours of the window with presenters stood outside training grounds with the local Neanderthals stood behind them acting like idiots and Jim White talking like he is a friend to everyone in football. I despair.
The FA cup replays were played out this week with League One, Bradford City turning over Championship side Millwall 4-0 at Valley Parade with a trip to Chelsea awaiting the Bantams. The manner of the defeat led to Millwall chairman, John Berylson saying he would refund the price of the match ticket to those 456 Millwall fans who travelled to West Yorkshire from London. Fair play I say. Having travelled around the country watching my team over the years, I know how expensive and problematic it can be to follow your side especially during the week with time off work, etc. I have been to Portsmouth away on a night game from Manchester, Middlesbrough too on a cold February night and for a chairman to offer a refund I say well done. He should be congratulated.
On Saturday I watched the last twenty minutes of the Derby - Nottingham Forest game. Having spent time in Nottingham in the past, I am aware of the rivalry between the two clubs. With Forest on a poor run and their manager, Stuart Pearce, a forest legend, under pressure when I saw they were a goal down I did fear the worst for Pearce and his side against Derby who are flying in the league.
The cameras were constantly showing Pearce patrolling his technical area and shouting out his instructions. In that last twenty minutes, I saw attack after attack from Forest and the players were clearly still playing for Pearce. When they equalised, Pearce duly celebrated, like a manager under pressure but also as a fan. When the winner went in after 90 minutes, I had to smile at the reaction from Pearce. So much passion, not only did the Forest end erupt as you would expect but as a football fan, although Derby fans will not like it, it was nice to see Pearce explode with so much relief, excitement and passion. I genuinely hope he does well at his beloved Forest. As the Forest fans sung “Stuart Pearce, he is one of our own".
Stuart Pearce's wild celebrations at Derby showed the depth of his love for Nottingham Forest
So another week in football ends. What next week will bring, who knows?
Written by Ian Hope [@fromtwelveyards]